Major seventh chord

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major seventh chord
Component intervals from root
major seventh
perfect fifth
major third
8:10:12:15 [1]
Forte no.  / Complement
4–20 / 8–20
Major seventh chord
Dizzy Gillespie's 1956 recording of "Dizzy's Business" ends with a major seventh chord [2] with root on G.

In music, a major seventh chord is a seventh chord in which the third is a major third above the root and the seventh is a major seventh above the root. The major seventh chord, sometimes also called a Delta chord, can be written as maj7, M7, Δ7, ⑦, etc. The "7" doesn't have to be superscripted, but if it is, then any alterations, added tones, or omissions are usually also superscripted. For example, the major seventh chord built on C, commonly written as Cmaj7, has pitches C–E–G–B:


Major seventh chord

It can be represented by the integer notation {0, 4, 7, 11}.

According to Forte, the major seventh chord is exemplified by IV7, which originates melodically. [3]

Major seventh chord

The just major seventh chord is tuned in the ratios 8:10:12:15, as a just major chord is tuned 4:5:6 and a just major seventh is tuned 15:8. Loudspeaker.svg Play  

The minor-minor sixth chord (minor triad with an added minor sixth) is an inversion of this chord.


In 1888, the French composer Erik Satie composed three slow waltzes, entitled Gymnopédies . The first and best-known of these alternates two major seventh chords. The first eight measures (shown below) alternate between Gmaj7 and Dmaj7.

Major seventh chord

Later examples of tonic major seventh chords include Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are",[ citation needed ] Joseph Kosma's "Autumn Leaves", [4] Antônio Carlos Jobim's "The Girl from Ipanema",[ citation needed ] The Beatles' "This Boy", [5] Bread's "Make It With You", America's "Tin Man", Ambrosia's How Much I Feel, Blood Sweat & Tears' "You've Made Me So Very Happy", Stevie Wonder's If You Really Love Me, The Spinners' "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love",[ citation needed ] Al Jarreau's Mornin', Al Wilson's "Show and Tell", first and third part of Paul McCartney and Wings' "Band On The Run", Carly Simon's "The Right Thing To Do", "Raydio's "You Can't Change That",[ citation needed ] Rupert Holmes' "Him"[ citation needed ], Vince Guaraldi Trio's "Christmas Time Is Here", Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out", Smashing Pumpkins' "1979", and Chicago's "Colour My World". [6]

Common in jazz since the Jazz Age of the 1920s, major seventh chords appeared frequently in compositions of genres influenced by jazz in the subsequent decades, such as traditional pop, bossa nova, and easy listening. Moving into the 1970s to replace the prominence of the dominant seventh chord as a stable tonic more common in the first fifteen years of the rock era, the major seventh was common in all styles, "pervading soul, country rock, soft rock, MOR (middle-of-the-road styles), jazz rock, funk, and disco." [6] Music theorist Ken Stephenson continues:

In soul and disco, a tonic minor seventh harmony often alternated with a dominant seventh or dominant ninth chord on Scale deg 4.svg ['Lady Marmalade' & 'Le Freak']... In other styles, major seventh and minor seventh chords generally mix (usually with eleventh chords...) to create a diatonic composite in either major or minor mode.... The most famous major seventh chord in the history of music, [is] the one that opens... 'Colour My World', even though the song departs from the usual pattern described above by 'colouring' the harmonic succession with several chromatic chords. Still, seven of that song's fourteen chords, including the tonic, are major sevenths or ninths, demonstrating the primacy of that chord type. [6]

Pieces which feature prominent major seventh chords include: Chick Corea's "Litha", Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas", Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge", John Lennon's "Imagine", Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower", Carole King's "It's Too Late", Michel Legrand's "Watch What Happens", Antonio Jobim's "Dindi", Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under The Bridge", Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird", [7] Tyler the Creator's "Earfquake", Sugar Ray's "Someday", "This Guy's in Love with You", [8] by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds's Fallin' In Love, Nicolette Larson's Lotta Love, The Spinners' "I'll Be Around", Raydio's Jack and Jill, and Tower of Power's "So Very Hard to Go".[ citation needed ]

Major seventh chord table

ChordRootMajor thirdPerfect fifthMajor seventh
Cmaj7CE (F)GB (C)
Dmaj7DF DoubleSharp.svg (G)AC DoubleSharp.svg (D)
Fmaj7FACE (F)
Gmaj7GB (C)DF DoubleSharp.svg (G)
Amaj7AC DoubleSharp.svg (D)E (F)G DoubleSharp.svg (A)

Major seventh chords for guitar

In standard tuning, the left is the low E string. To the right of the | is another way of playing the same chord. x means mute the string. (The Amaj7 demonstrates the movable chord shapes.)

See also


  1. Shirlaw, Matthew (1900). The Theory of Harmony, p.86. ISBN   978-1-4510-1534-8.
  2. Walter Everett (Autumn, 2004). "A Royal Scam: The Abstruse and Ironic Bop-Rock Harmony of Steely Dan", p.205, Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 201–235.
  3. Forte, Allen (1979). Tonal Harmony in Concept & Practice, p.150. ISBN   0-03-020756-8.
  4. Kosma, J. and Mercer, J. (1947) Autumn Leaves. Enoch & Company.
  5. MacDonald, I. (2005, p.103) Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties. London, Pimlico.
  6. 1 2 3 Stephenson, Ken (2002). What to Listen for in Rock: A Stylistic Analysis, p.83. ISBN   978-0-300-09239-4. "...the most famous major seventh chord in the history of music, the one that opens Chicago's 'Colour My World'..."
  7. Radley, Roberta (2011). The "Real Easy" Ear Training Book, pages unmarked. ISBN   9781457101427
  8. Bacharach B. and David, H. (1989, p144) Burt Bacharach Anthology, New York, Warner Brothers

Related Research Articles

In music theory, a leading-tone is a note or pitch which resolves or "leads" to a note one semitone higher or lower, being a lower and upper leading-tone, respectively. Typically, the leading tone refers to the seventh scale degree of a major scale, a major seventh above the tonic. In the movable do solfège system, the leading-tone is sung as ti.

An altered chord is a chord in which one or more notes from the diatonic scale is replaced with a neighboring pitch from the chromatic scale. According to the broadest definition any chord with a nondiatonic chord tone is an altered chord, while the simplest use of altered chords is the use of borrowed chords, chords borrowed from the parallel key, and the most common is the use of secondary dominants. As Alfred Blatter explains,"An altered chord occurs when one of the standard, functional chords is given another quality by the modification of one or more components of the chord."

In a musical composition, a chord progression or harmonic progression is a succession of chords. Chord progressions are the foundation of harmony in Western musical tradition from the common practice era of Classical music to the 21st century. Chord progressions are the foundation of Western popular music styles and traditional music. In these genres, chord progressions are the defining feature on which melody and rhythm are built.

Chord (music) Harmonic set of three or more notes

A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches/frequencies consisting of multiple notes that are heard as if sounding simultaneously. For many practical and theoretical purposes, arpeggios and broken chords, or sequences of chord tones, may also be considered as chords in the right musical context.

A secondary chord is an analytical label for a specific harmonic device that is prevalent in the tonal idiom of Western music beginning in the common practice period: the use of diatonic functions for tonicization.

In music theory, a diminished triad is a triad consisting of two minor thirds above the root. It is a minor triad with a lowered (flattened) fifth. When using chord symbols, it may be indicated by the symbols "dim", "o", "m5", or "MI(5)". However, in most popular-music chord books, the symbol "dim" and "o" represents a diminished seventh chord, which in some modern jazz books and music theory books is represented by the "dim7" or "o7" symbols.

Thirteenth musical interval

In music or music theory, a thirteenth is the note thirteen scale degrees from the root of a chord and also the interval between the root and the thirteenth. The interval can be also described as a compound sixth, spanning an octave plus a sixth. The thirteenth is most commonly major Play  or minor Play .

A suspended chord is a musical chord in which the third is omitted and replaced with a perfect fourth or, less commonly, a major second. The lack of a minor or a major third in the chord creates an open sound, while the dissonance between the fourth and fifth or second and root creates tension. When using popular-music symbols, they are indicated by the symbols "sus4" and "sus2". For example, the suspended fourth and second chords built on C (C–E–G), written as Csus4 and Csus2, have pitches C–F–G and C–D–G, respectively.

In music theory, a ninth chord is a chord that encompasses the interval of a ninth when arranged in close position with the root in the bass.

The ninth chord and its inversions exist today, or at least they can exist. The pupil will easily find examples in the literature [such as Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht and Strauss's opera Salome]. It is not necessary to set up special laws for its treatment. If one wants to be careful, one will be able to use the laws that pertain to the seventh chords: that is, dissonances resolve by step downward, the root leaps a fourth upward.

In music theory, a dominant seventh chord, or major minor seventh chord, is a seventh chord, usually built on the fifth degree of the major scale, and composed of a root, major third, perfect fifth, and minor seventh. Thus it is a major triad together with a minor seventh, denoted by the letter name of the chord root and a superscript "7". An example is the dominant seventh chord built on G, written as G7, having pitches G–B–D–F:

Coltrane changes are a harmonic progression variation using substitute chords over common jazz chord progressions. These substitution patterns were first demonstrated by jazz musician John Coltrane on the albums Bags & Trane and Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago. Coltrane continued his explorations on the 1959 album Giant Steps and expanded on the substitution cycle in his compositions "Giant Steps" and "Countdown", the latter of which is a reharmonized version of Eddie Vinson's "Tune Up". The Coltrane changes are a standard advanced harmonic substitution used in jazz improvisation.

In music, a minor seventh chord is any seventh chord in which the third is a minor third above the root. Most typically, minor seventh chord refers to a chord in which the third is a minor third above the root and the seventh is a minor seventh above the root. For example, the minor/minor seventh chord built on C, commonly written as C–7, has pitches C–E–G–B:

Chord substitution

In music theory, chord substitution is the technique of using a chord in place of another in a progression of chords, or a chord progression. Much of the European classical repertoire and the vast majority of blues, jazz and rock music songs are based on chord progressions. "A chord substitution occurs when a chord is replaced by another that is made to function like the original. Usually substituted chords possess two pitches in common with the triad that they are replacing."

Tritone substitution

The tritone substitution is a common chord substitution found in both jazz and classical music. Where jazz is concerned, it was the precursor to more complex substitution patterns like Coltrane changes. Tritone substitutions are sometimes used in improvisation—often to create tension during a solo. Though examples of the tritone substitution, known in the classical world as an augmented sixth chord, can be found extensively in classical music since the Renaissance period, they were not heard until much later in jazz by musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker in the 1940s, as well as Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge and Benny Goodman.

Guitar chord

In music, a guitar chord is a set of notes played on a guitar. A chord's notes are often played simultaneously, but they can be played sequentially in an arpeggio. The implementation of guitar chords depends on the guitar tuning. Most guitars used in popular music have six strings with the "standard" tuning of the Spanish classical guitar, namely E-A-D-G-B-E' ; in standard tuning, the intervals present among adjacent strings are perfect fourths except for the major third (G,B). Standard tuning requires four chord-shapes for the major triads.

Harmonic major scale

In music theory, the harmonic major scale is a musical scale found in some music from the common practice era and now used occasionally, most often in jazz. In George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept it is the fifth mode (V) of the Lydian Diminished scale. It corresponds to the Raga Sarasangi in Indian Carnatic music.

Dominant seventh sharp ninth chord

In music, the dominant 79 chord is a chord built by combining a dominant seventh, which includes a major third above the root, with an augmented second, which is the same note, albeit given a different note name, as the minor third degree above the root. This chord is used in many forms of contemporary popular music, including jazz, funk, R&B, rock and pop. As a dominant chord in diatonic harmony, it most commonly functions as a turnaround chord, returning to the tonic.

The ii–V–I progression is a common cadential chord progression used in a wide variety of music genres, including jazz harmony. It is a succession of chords whose roots descend in fifths from the second degree (supertonic) to the fifth degree (dominant), and finally to the tonic. In a major key, the supertonic triad (ii) is minor, and in a minor key it is diminished. The dominant is, in its normal form, a major triad and commonly a dominant seventh chord. With the addition of chord alterations, substitutions, and extensions, limitless variations exist on this simple formula.

Jazz improvisation

Jazz improvisation is the spontaneous invention of melodic solo lines or accompaniment parts in a performance of jazz music. It is one of the defining elements of jazz. Improvisation is composing on the spot, when a singer or instrumentalist invents melodies and lines over a chord progression played by rhythm section instruments and accompanied by drums. Although blues, rock, and other genres use improvisation, it is done over relatively simple chord progressions which often remain in one key.

In music, harmonization is the chordal accompaniment to a line or melody: "Using chords and melodies together, making harmony by stacking scale tones as triads".